“He’s too soft to succeed.” I’ve heard it said in meetings and even in post-interview discussions. But what exactly does that mean? And how did that idea get planted in so many business minds?
There’s a lot packed into those few words so often spoken as truth — yet very little of it of any use to good business practice. In fact, labels like “soft” can actually wind up influencing staff performance negatively. And missing the point altogether.
Employees frequently act as they perceive they need to. And phrases like that leave a lingering impression that can turn into a form of self-censoring. Meanwhile, judgers judge as they think they need to for them to succeed. And, in the process of everyone trying to be what’s expected of them, authenticity gets lost.
Cliched thinking is a sign of lazy management
It’s easy to use phrases that basically minimize or altogether remove the human side of work and business. Let’s not give power, they tell us, to things that aren’t easy to quantify on paper or in a good ole pie chart! You know the old sayings:
- No pain no gain.
- Survival of the fittest.
- Winning is everything.
- The end justifies the means.
- It’s just business, not personal.
- Being too “nice” will get you eaten alive.
But well-known shortcuts in language like these limit healthy discussion of the bigger — and more accurate — picture. And they also help cut off healthy workplace behavior, including giving value to emotional intelligence and the human resource side of work … a company’s most valuable asset.
Without us humans, business just isn’t happening. Even robots need humans to create them … at least as of now. [Read more…]